Jordan hangs 15 death row prisoners at dawn in further break from moratorium on executions

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 March, 2017, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 March, 2017, 10:01pm

Jordan hanged 15 death row prisoners at dawn on Saturday, its information minister said, in a further break with the moratorium on executions it had observed between 2006 and 2014.

Ten of those put to death had been convicted of terrorism offences and five of “heinous” crimes, Mahmud al-Momani told the official Petra news agency.

Those executed included one man who was convicted of an attack last year on an intelligence compound that killed five security personnel, al Momani said. Another five were involved in an assault by security forces on a militant hideout in Irbid city in the same year that led to the death of seven militants and one police officer, while the rest related to separate incidents that go back as far as 2003.

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A judicial source said the authorities also executed a gunman who last year shot dead outside a court a Christian writer who was standing trial for contempt of religion after sharing on social media a caricature insulting Islam. Also among the 10 was a gunman convicted of firing at a group of Western tourists near the Roman amphitheatre in downtown Amman in 2006, killing one Briton and injuring five other people, the judicial source added.

The five other executions were for rape and sexual assault.

All were Jordanians and they were hanged in Suaga prison south of the capital Amman.

King Abdullah had said in 2005 that Jordan aimed to become the first Middle Eastern country to halt executions in line with most European countries.

Courts continued to hand down death sentences but they were not carried out.

But public opinion blamed a rise in crime on the policy and in December 2014 Jordan hanged 11 men convicted of murder, drawing criticism from human rights groups. Opinion hardened after the murder by Islamic State (IS) of captured Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh whose plane had crashed in a jihadist-held region of Syria in December 2014 while serving with a US-led coalition.

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Grisly footage posted in February the following year of him being burnt alive in a cage outraged the public. Swiftly afterwards, Jordan hanged two people convicted of terrorism offences, one of them Sajida al-Rishawi. She had taken part in a 2005 suicide attack on luxury hotels in Amman organised by IS’s forebear, al-Qaeda in Iraq, but her explosives failed to detonate.

Additional reporting by Reuters